A nurse wearing a protective suit and face mask treating the sick in Wuhan has claimed that 90,000 people have already been infected by the coronavirus in China – far more than the figure of just 1,975 issued by government officials.
Her warning from the heart of the outbreak emerged as the Chinese government faced accusations of censoring criticism of its handling of the disease in order to play down the crisis.
The outbreak of the new virus originated in China, where it has infected more than 1,970 people and killed 56, and has spread worldwide.
Speaking in video footage seen online, the unnamed woman says: ‘I’m in the area where the coronavirus started. I’m here to tell the truth. At this moment, Hubei province, including Wuhan area, even China, 90,000 people have been infected by coronavirus.’
Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying the country is facing a grave situation, held a politburo meeting on measures to fight the outbreak, state television reported on Saturday.
The country is facing a ‘grave situation’ where the coronavirus is “accelerating its spread,” Xi told the meeting, which took place on the Lunar New Year public holiday.
Despite China being initially praised for its transparency in managing the situation, critics have now claimed that officials are scrubbing the internet of videos that reveal the true situation.
However, the nurse’s report has been viewed almost two million times on YouTube. In the footage, she warns people not to go outside and to refrain from celebrating the Chinese New Year.
She said: ‘I would like to say that everyone who is currently watching this video should not go outside. Don’t party. Do not eat out. Once a year, we celebrate Chinese New Year. If you are safe now, you will be able to meet your family again healthy next year.’
Making a desperate plea for supplies, she said: ‘We don’t care what the government says. I will tell you through social media. Everyone, please donate masks, glasses and clothes to Wuhan.
‘Please help us. Please donate disposable goggles, disposable masks and disposable clothing. Currently our resources are not enough.’
Horrifying clips have been posted online by shocked citizens only to be deleted shortly after. In one, the sick are seen sitting between drips and oxygen tanks next to three dead bodies covered in white sheets. The footage was deleted from social media channel Weibo.
Last week, in rare public dissent, a senior journalist at a Hubei provincial newspaper run by the ruling Communist Party called for an ‘immediate’ change of leadership in Wuhan on Weibo. The post was later removed.
The People’s Daily, a state-owned newspaper, posted a video of an apparently cured patient flashing the peace sign alongside four medics.
But the Global Times revealed that vital resources, including masks and goggles, were urgently needed.
Critics have also claimed that many health experts who would have been able to warn the government at an early stage of the dangers of coronavirus have been detained or had their research stopped because they were not working within the Chinese state.
The accusations of a cover-up echo the furore surrounding the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic in 2002 when the government concealed the existence of the illness not just from the outside world but from its own people.
Newspapers were forbidden from reporting the disease other than occasional statements from government officials reassuring the public there was nothing to worry about.
The state put such effort into suppressing negative headlines that when an ill traveller from Guangdong arrived in Beijing, doctors had no idea what he was suffering from.
Cities across the US are on high alert as two coronavirus cases are confirmed in Chicago and Washington, 63 people are tested in 22 states and 1,000 American citizens are told to evacuate Ground Zero in Wuhan
Cities across America are on high alert amid the escalating coronavirus crisis as 63 people in 22 states are suspected to have contracted the deadly strain.
Two cases have been confirmed in the US but officials have said they expect that number to grow as dozens more people are being tested for the virus that’s sickened more than 1,400 and killed 42 in at least 12 countries.
Surges in medical mask sales have been seen in areas where possible cases have been reported as people do what they can to avoid contracting the disease, which experts say may be spread as easily as the common cold.
Extra precautions are being taken at airports nationwide as all passengers inbound from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak originated in late December, are being funneled to five major hubs for screening.
The US government has also ordered evacuations for some 1,000 citizens and diplomats in Wuhan.
The city, which has a population of around 11 million, has been under quarantine since Thursday as officials try to slow the spread of the virus traced back to a seafood market where wildlife was allegedly sold illegally.
Both of the American patients already diagnosed with the disease – a man in his 30s in Washington state and a 60-year-old woman in Chicago – has recently traveled to Wuhan. They are being held in isolation at hospitals and are said to be recovering well.
It appears that all of the patients currently awaiting test results after showing symptoms consistent with the virus – such as fever, cough and runny nose – had either visited Wuhan recently or were in contact with someone who visited the city.
Those patients are believed to have all been isolated either in hospitals or in their homes to reduce the risk of exposing others.
US health officials warned on Friday that the flu or other respiratory illnesses could complicate efforts to identify additional cases.
‘We’re really working to understand the full spectrum of the illness with this coronavirus,’ Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Messonnier, said at a briefing.
‘The problem with this time of year is it’s cold and flu season and there are lots of cold and respiratory infections circulating.’
The CDC has recommended that anyone with symptoms contact a health-care provider before seeking treatment so the appropriate precautionary measures can be put in place.
The agency is trying to expedite screenings by providing up tests to state health officials.
It currently takes the CDC about four to six hours to make a diagnosis once a sample arrives at its lab.
Two people from Minnesota and three people from Michigan are currently being tested.
The patients from Michigan have reportedly agreed to remain in isolation until their tests results return, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Also being monitored are two college students, one from Texas A&M University and another from Tennessee Tech University.
The Tennessee Department of Health said it decided to test the TTU student because he or she had ‘very mild symptoms’ and had a recent concerning travel history that met the criteria for testing.
No results have been confirmed and the student is being kept in isolation.
For the Texas student, Brazos County Health District officials said the male had ‘mild’ symptoms that resembled the coronavirus and had traveled to Wuhan recently.
Results of tests will be announced to the public if the patient tests positive for coronavirus.
Officials said the patient is currently being kept isolated at home and that it is safe for student to attend classes.
‘This patient did travel to the area of concern in China within the last 14 days and thankfully had mild upper respiratory symptoms, and he was improving,’ said Dr Eric Wilke with the Brazos County Health Department.
‘I believe the time the patient presented at the emergency department, it was more out of concern,’ said Dr Eric Wilke with the Brazos County Health Department.
Medical supply stores around the Brazos Valley, where Texas A&M is located, are reportedly experiencing a medical mask shortage after the possible case was reported.
Genese Smith, who works at MediCare Equipment in Bryan, just a few miles off campus, told KBTX that an influx of customers came to the store looking for masks on Thursday.
‘Within about 30 minutes of word getting out, we started getting phone calls asking if we have the masks, what kind of masks did we have, and how many we had available,’ Smith said. ‘Quite a few people started coming in, asking, and purchasing.’
Smith said the store typically stocks about 50 masks but has already ordered more.
Other stores in the area, including Texas A&M’s Health Services Department, are also awaiting new shipments of masks after their current stocks ran out, per KBTX.
In California, Los Angeles International Airport has been on high alert after a passenger who arrived on Wednesday was sent to hospital after he or she appeared to be ill.
The unnamed passenger arrived on an American Airlines flight from Mexico City around 7pm, CBS Los Angeles reported.
However, it remains unclear if the passenger is from Mexico City, or if they originated from another city.
Several people in the state, particularly in Alameda County and the Bay Area, are also being examined to see if they have the virus that resembles SARS.
On Friday, North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services also reported that it is investigating a case.
The suspected patient arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on January 23 after having traveled to Wuhan but not to the seafood market to which many early cases have been linked, according to a news release.
Four other potential cases are also under investigation in New York state.
In Colorado, a patient with respiratory symptoms was placed in isolation at Lakewood’s Centura – St. Anthony Hospital after they were found to have recently traveled to Wuhan.
The hospital said it could be several days for coronavirus test results to come back from the CDC, but public health risk is considered low at this time.
In Washington state, where the first US case was confirmed, the Northwest Chinese school in Bellevue called off weekend classes for preschoolers through adults amid concerns about the virus.
‘We take the health of our students and families very seriously and think that this is the best course of action,’ officials wrote in an email announcing the cancelled classes.
On the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, a Chinese student association has been distributing face masks and asking students to contribute to efforts to send supplies such as face masks and protective suits to China.
Tensions have been high at US airports as travelers worry about exposure to the virus in such a high-traffic, confined environment.
Last week, US officials began funneling all passengers arriving in the US from Wuhan on direct or connecting flights through five major airports to ensure that they are screened.
Public health entry screenings are currently taking place Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, John F Kennedy International Airport in New York and San Francisco International Airport.
The screening begins with a survey to determine whether a traveler shows possible coronavirus symptoms and whether they visited the meat or seafood markets in Wuhan that have been tied to the outbreak.
If they appear to have any symptoms associated with coronavirus, travelers are taken to on-site triage for further examination and a temperature check.
The State Department issued its highest travel warning for Wuhan on Thursday, advising Americans to not travel to the region.
The level 4 warning puts the city on par with countries such as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.
The US government is also working to prevent American exposure abroad by bringing home all US citizens currently in Wuhan.
The US consulate is reportedly reaching out to all Americans registered as living in Wuhan – considered to be the epicenter of the deadly outbreak – to offer them a seat on a charter flight scheduled for Sunday.
A source familiar with the operation told CNN that roughly 1,000 Americans live in Wuhan, and those who choose to evacuate will be forced to pay for their spot on the Boeing 767 jet, which carries around 230 people.
The US evacuation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, citing an official source.
However, another source who spoke to CNN disputed the Wall Street Journal’s claim that any available seats may be offered to non-US citizens and diplomats from other countries, saying that non-US citizens would only be allowed onboard if they are related or married to Americans.
It is understood medical personnel will be on the flight to care for anyone who may have been infected by the virus and prevent it from spreading.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it is involved in the efforts to help Americans leave Wuhan.
‘Department of State has the lead for the safe and expedient ordered departure of all US citizens from Wuhan, China,’ CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told CNN. ‘CDC is aware and coordinating in the planning.’
Washington was given approval for the operation from China’s Foreign Ministry and other government agencies following negotiations in recent days.
The US also plans to temporarily shut its Wuhan consulate, it said.
In a tweet on Friday, President Donald Trump thanked President Xi Jinping and China for its ‘transparency’ in fighting coronavirus.
‘China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!’ Trump wrote.
Canada hospital says it has confirmed case of deadly virus
A Toronto hospital said Saturday it has a confirmed case of the deadly virus from China, Canada’s first.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre said it is ‘caring for a patient who has a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.’
Officials said the man is his 50s and recently flew from Wuhan, China to Guangzhou, China and then on to Toronto on January 23.
‘He really wasn’t in Toronto very long. He wasn’t feeling well. I think he was at home and the people that live with him are in self isolation,’ said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s Associated Chief Medical Officer.
In Canada, while the case has been confirmed by a test in Toronto, officials said it has yet to complete separate testing by the federal government’s National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases in Winnipeg.
The illness will officially be fully confirmed once it completes that testing.
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said they are 95 per cent sure it is the virus.
‘This is the first presumptive confirmed case,’ said Williams.
‘While we are convinced our tests do demonstrate positivity there is confirmation at the national medical laboratory in Winnipeg and once that is done is is a fully confirmed case.’
The man is now in stable condition in isolation. He was admitted to hospital a day after his flight to Toronto.
Mayor John Tory said health officials say the risk to the public is low.
Xi warns of ‘grave situation’ as killer coronavirus accelerates, doctor dies and US evacuates its citizens from hotspot Wuhan after death toll jumps to 42 with 1,372 cases and 56 million on lockdown
The deadly coronavirus is ‘accelerating’ and China is facing a ‘grave situation’, the country’s president has said – as at least one doctor has died from the virus and the US prepares to evacuate citizens from crisis-hit Wuhan.
The virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan, already on lockdown and where the virus is thought to have originated, banned most vehicle use downtown and Hong Kong said it would close schools for two weeks as authorities scramble to stop the spread of an illness that has infected more than 1,400 people worldwide and killed 42.
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke following an emergency government meeting to warn that the spread of the killer virus is worsening, as video emerged showing medics collapsing at hospitals in the capital of central China’s Hubei province as the coronavirus outbreak continues to move across the world.
As of 8 pm local time (1200 GMT) on Saturday, the death toll in China had risen to 42, authorities reported. Some 1,372 people in China had been infected with the virus – traced to a seafood market in Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife.
The virus has also been detected in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, and the United States.
‘Faced with the grave situation of an accelerating spread of the new coronavirus […] it is necessary to strengthen the centralised and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee,’ Xi said, according to official news agency Xinhua.
It comes as Liang Wudong, 62, who had been treating patients in Wuhan, died from the virus this morning, state-run China Global Television Network reported.
Wudong, who was retired but drafted in to help with the outbreak, died after time spent treating patients. It was also reported that another doctor, Jiang Jijun, has died from a heart attack while treating the afflicted.
It is unknown if the infectious disease specialist, who has treated bird flu and influenza A and tuberculosis over the years, died as a result of coronavirus or from exhaustion.
And the US, which has around 1,000 citizens in the city, is set to evacuate those it knows about – including diplomats – on a 230 seater charter flight tomorrow.
The US government won approval for the operation from China’s Foreign Ministry and other government agencies following negotiations in recent days, The Wall Street Journal reports. The British Foreign Ministry is yet to confirm whether it will do the same.
Also today, distressing video has emerged showing a doctor collapsing on the floor as footage revealed the full scale of panic inside Wuhan hospitals, with crowded corridors and patients slumped on the floor.
Video shows staff shouting at patients to calm themselves as medics desperately try to contain the situation. Some workers are reported to be wearing diapers as they don’t have time to use the toilet amid the panic.
Some 56 million people are now subject to restrictions on their movement as authorities expand travel bans in central Hubei province, now affecting 18 cities.
Other shocking developments in the outbreak today include:
China’s National Health Commission said it had formed six medical teams totalling 1,230 medical staff to help
Videos from inside Chinese hospitals show patients crammed into overcrowded corridors and laid on the floor
Global airports have stepped up screening of passengers from China, though some have questioned its worth
China says virus is mutating and can be transmitted through human contact, mostly affecting the frail and old
Shanghai has shut all cinemas until 30 January in a desperate bid to try and stop the spread of the killer virus
Wuhan will impose ban on non-essential vehicles in downtown area from January 26 to contain virus outbreak
Hong Kong declares a virus emergency announcing a series of measures to limit city’s links with mainland China
Starbucks said it was closing all outlets in Hubei province, following a similar move by McDonald’s in five cities
Yum China Holdings Inc said it has temporarily closed some of its KFC and Pizza Hut stores in Wuhan as a result
All overseas group tour services, including hotel and plane bookings, from Chinese travel firms to be suspended
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has declared a virus emergency in the Asian financial hub, announcing a package of measures to limit the city’s links with mainland China.
Schools, now on Lunar New Year holidays, would remain shut until February 17, while inbound and outbound flights and high speed rail trips between Hong Kong and Wuhan would be halted.
China’s National Health Commission has announced it had formed six medical teams totalling 1,230 medical staff to help Wuhan. Three of the six teams, from Shanghai, Guangdong and military hospitals have arrived in Wuhan.
China will suspend both domestic and overseas Chinese group tours, state media reported today, as it ramps up efforts to contain the new SARS-like virus.
Starting on Monday, all overseas group tour services, including hotel and plane ticket bookings, from Chinese travel agencies will be suspended, according to state broadcaster CCTV. Domestic tour groups were suspended from Friday, it said.
Wuhan, a city of 11 million, has been in virtual lockdown since Thursday, with nearly all flights at the airport cancelled and checkpoints blocking the main roads leading out of town. Authorities have since imposed transport restrictions on nearly all of Hubei province, which has a population of 59 million.
In Beijing today, workers in white protective suits checked temperatures of passengers entering the subway at the central railway station, while some train services in eastern China’s Yangtze River Delta region were suspended, the local railway operator said.
The number of confirmed cases in China stands at 1,287, the National Health Commission said today.
U.S. coffee chain Starbucks said on Saturday that it was closing all its outlets in Hubei province for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, following a similar move by McDonald’s in five Hubei cities.
Yum China Holdings Inc said it has temporarily closed some of its KFC and Pizza Hut stores in Wuhan in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city.
‘We will continue to evaluate the need for additional actions and preventive health measures,’ Yum China said in an emailed statement.
The virus has also been detected in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, Malaysia, France, the United States and Australia.
Australia on Saturday announced its first case of coronavirus, a Chinese national in his 50s, who had been in Wuhan and arrived from China on Jan. 19 on a flight from Guangzhou. He is in stable condition in a Melbourne hospital.
‘Given the number of cases that have been found outside of China and the significant traffic from Wuhan city in the past to Australia, it was not unexpected that we would get some cases,’ Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told a news conference.
‘This is the first confirmed case. There are other cases being tested each day, many of them are negative, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had further confirmed cases.’
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday it had 63 patients under investigation, with two confirmed cases, both in people who had travelled to Wuhan.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new coronavirus an ’emergency in China’ this week but stopped short of declaring it of international concern.
Human-to-human transmission has been observed in the virus.
China’s National Health Commission said on Saturday it had formed six medical teams totalling 1,230 medical staff to help Wuhan. Three of the six teams, from Shanghai, Guangdong and military hospitals have arrived in Wuhan.
Hubei province, where authorities are rushing to build a 1,000 bed hospital in six days to treat patients, announced on Saturday that there were 658 patients affected by the virus in treatment, 57 of whom were critically ill.
The newly-identified coronavirus has created alarm because there are still many unknowns surrounding it, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.
Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and coughing. Most of the fatalities have been in elderly patients, many with pre-existing conditions, the WHO said.
It comes as residents of the Chinese city at the centre of the country’s coronavirus crisis fear they are ‘trapped’ and will all be infected because of the government lockdown which has stopped anyone from leaving.
Authorities yesterday scrambled to shut tourist attractions and public transport systems in 14 cities in a bid to stop the spread of the deadly new coronavirus that has killed at least 56 people and infected more than 1,200.
In a drastic turn of events, part of the Great Wall of China and Disneyland in Shanghai were closed yesterday as authorities desperately try to stop people spreading the Wuhan coronavirus.
Thirteen cities, home to around 40million people, are reported to have followed Wuhan’s example and gone into some form of lockdown in the past 24 hours with public transport halted and roads closed.
A man living in Wuhan yesterday told MailOnline people there are ‘all trapped’ and and he fears he and his family will become infected if they aren’t allowed to leave the city.
The man, who is not a Chinese citizen, is part of an international community who are all ‘panicked’, he said, and want to get out of the city before they are made ill.
A report published yesterday warned China’s deadly new virus could have infected 350,000 people in a single city by the end of the month, according to experts who warn doctors are only diagnosing one in every 20 cases.
There were 1,287 confirmed cases and 56 people had died in China as of Saturday, Chinese state media reported.
Scientists now say thousands of people might catch the virus without ever knowing they have had it, making it far easier to spread than was initially feared.
A second patient was diagnosed in the US yesterday – a woman in Chicago – and 63 other people in 22 states are being monitored for possible cases . Across the Atlantic, British authorities have tested 14 people but all were negative – a small number of other people are expected to go through tests yesterday.
A man living in Wuhan, who is a foreign national and did not want to be identified, yesterday told MailOnline he feared thousands of foreign nationals are in the city unable to leave because of the Chinese government’s drastic shutdown.
He told MailOnline: ‘Due to the recent lock down, we all are trapped now. Several international students and workers have families here. I also have a baby. The situation is very serious here. If they keep everyone inside Wuhan I am afraid we all shall get infected.’
The man said the government is using online channels and TV programming to tell Wuhan residents to stay at home and he feared officials would be angry at insiders for sharing information with the outside world.
‘People are panicked,’ he added. ‘It is advised by the government and university authorities not to go out, stay at home and call a hospital in case of having any symptoms.
‘Yesterday the government announced the travel ban and, soon after, people rushed to the markets to buy a lot of food for the next several days. Yesterday, almost all the shops were empty and closed.
‘I am in contact with a big international community in Wuhan. Everyone is panicked.
‘Most of them are trying to contact their countries’ embassies for help… but no significant development has been made yet.
‘Everyone is panicked and wants to flee the China and go back to their countries or at least to move to a safer city in China.’
A report produced by researchers from Lancaster University in England, the University of Florida and the University of Glasgow, estimated that only one in 20 coronavirus cases are being diagnosed.
Dr Jonathan Read, a biostatistics researcher at Lancaster, wrote with colleagues: ‘If no change in control or transmission happens, then we expect further outbreaks to occur in other Chinese cities, and that infections will continue to be exported to international destinations at an increasing rate.
‘In 14 days’ time (4 February 2020), our model predicts the number of infected people in Wuhan to be greater than 250 thousand (prediction interval, 164,602 to 351,396).’
Dr Read told MailOnline: ‘The estimate we came back with was that one in 20 people becoming infected are getting detected and confirmed as cases. There is potentially a lot of people not recognised.
‘This could be for a number of reasons. One that springs to mind the most, common with respiratory and flu-like viruses, is a lot of people will get sick and never seek medical help. Unless you present yourself to a doctor or a hospital you won’t get counted.’
Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said: ‘It’s winter – it’s an enormous city with lots of people with cold and flu. People would realise they were feeling ill, but not that they have the coronavirus.’
And Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, added: ‘If it’s [the virus] relatively mild, there is potential it has been spread in people that aren’t ill.
‘Any infection can range from making people really sick and then causing mild flu-like symptom. We can miss a lot of the mild cases.’
The fear of infections spreading fast led to dramatic shutdowns all over China yesterday.
Shanghai Disney Resort posted on its website: ‘In response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety of our guests and cast, Shanghai Disney Resort is temporarily closing Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown.
‘We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and… announce the reopening date upon confirmation.’
A section of the Great Wall known as the Badaling section – one of the most visited parts – is closed to tourists, Al Jazeera reports.
The following measures have been taken to control the disease’s spread in and around China:
Beijing’s Forbidden Palace, which hosts the Palace Museum, will be closed to visitors from today
The Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, is closed
A four-day carnival planned in Hong Kong, from January 25 to 28, was cancelled by the state tourism board
Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year World Cup football tournament was called off
All public Lunar New Year events in Macau, home to more than half-a-million people, have been cancelled
Transport restrictions are reported to be in place in Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou, Zhijiang, Dangyang, Qianjiang, Chibi, Xiantao, Lichuan, Jingmen, Xianning, Yichang and Enshi
Businesses around China – the world’s biggest nation and home to more than one billion people, a seventh of the world’s population – are already having to take drastic measures.
Seven movies which were set to premiere over this weekend have cancelled their screenings and 70,000 cinemas across the country have closed their doors, The Telegraph reports.
McDonald’s is believed to have ordered the closure of branches in five cities in the Hubei province, and clothing store Uni Qlo has shut down 17 stores in Wuhan city, where the outbreak began and is most dangerous.
Wuhan has now been in lockdown for two days, with residents told not to leave and forced to wear face masks. There is no public transport, major roads have been closed and the airport has been shut down.
Reports from the city described it as a ‘ghost town’ as streets were deserted at a time when millions would normally be preparing to celebrate.
And at least nine other areas have started to put similar measures in place.
Huanggang, close to Wuhan, is home to more than seven million people and yesterday announced it would shut down its public transport.
Movement of people is also reportedly being restricted in Ezhou, Zhijiang, Dangyang, Qianjiang, Chibi, Xiantao, Lichuan, Jingmen, Xianning, Yichang, Huangshi and Enshi, The Telegraph reports.
All these places are in the Hubei province, which is the epicenter of the outbreak – Wuhan is the capital. Hubei has a total population of almost 60million people – slightly more than England.
Hubei has by far recorded the most cases – 549 out of the total, according to China Daily – and all but one of the 26 people who have died died in that province.
Chinese hospitals visited by journalists have been bustling with worried patients being screened by staff wearing full-body protective suits.
At a temperature-check station, a medical staffer in bodysuit, face mask and goggles took a thermometer from a middle-aged woman, pausing to examine the reading before quickly turning back to the patient.
‘Have you registered? Then go and see the doctor,’ the staffer said.
One 35-year-old man surnamed Li voiced the fears of many. ‘I have a fever and cough, so I’m worried that I’m infected,’ he said. ‘I don’t know the results yet.’
Scientists say that, on average, each person who becomes infected with the coronavirus is passing it on to between 1.4 and 2.5 other people, the BBC reports.
A number higher than one – as this one is – means an outbreak can continue to sustain itself without anyone catching the infection from the original source.
Despite the upcoming New Year celebrations, typically a joyous time of year, people in the Hubei province, which is where Wuhan is located and most of the cases have been diagnosed, have limited movement and are being told to stay home.
‘This year we have a very scary Chinese New Year,’ said a taxi driver in the city, who asked not to be named. ‘People are not going outside because of the virus.’
Footage from Wuhan yesterday showed the dramatic consequences of city shutdown, as videos emerged showing a man reportedly disinfecting an entire neighbourhood with gas, shoppers fighting over food in a supermarket and traffic building up on blockaded roads.
One resident told the BBC the atmosphere in the city felt like ‘the end of the world’.
Dr Gauden Galea, a World Health Organization disease expert, said yesterday: ‘To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11million people is new to science.
‘It has not been tried before as a public health measure. We cannot at this stage say it will or it will not work.’
Information that emerged yesterday revealed the coronavirus is far more contagious than previously feared and can be spread third-hand via a simple cough or sneeze.
Dr David Heymann, an infectious disease expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: ‘We are now seeing second and third generation spread,’ CNN reported.
Third generation spread means people are catching it from others who also caught it from a person, not the original animal source.
Dr Heymann added there is growing evidence that coughs or sneezes even close to someone could infect them, but there is no proof the virus is airborne.
Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs.
People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.
For this reason, experts think the true number of people who have caught the infection so far is already into the thousands and potentially tens of thousands.
Its current death rate is between two and three per cent, meaning two or three people die for every 100 who catch the illness.
To try and cope with the outpouring of patients, authorities at ground zero – Wuhan city – have ordered a brand new hospital to be constructed over the next week, which is supposed to be a public holiday.
And governments and airports around the world are screening passengers arriving from China.
Countries including the US, Malaysia and Singapore have introduced rigorous checks, with all passengers coming in from Wuhan are having their temperature taken, regardless of whether they have any symptoms.
International flights out of Wuhan have all been cancelled because of the virus’s spread, which has seen cases pop up in 11 countries/territories, most of which are in East Asia.
In the US, where two cases have been confirmed, authorities in Washington state are monitoring at least 43 people who they say had close contact with a patient from near Seattle. The second case was diagnosed in a woman in Chicago, Illinois.
Sixty-three suspected cases have appeared in 22 states and patients are in process of being tested.
There are reportedly 10 people in California who are being held in isolation while doctors wait for test results. A male Texas A&M University student who had travelled to Wuhan recently is also being tested, as well as a student at Tennessee Tech.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it would direct all flights from Wuhan to five airports and screen passengers at LAX in Los Angeles, JFK in New York, San Francisco International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. It is not clear, however, if this has been put in place yet, Time reported.
President Donald Trump insisted earlier this week that the country wasn’t concerned about the outbreak and added: ‘We have it totally under control. We do have a plan, and we think it’s going to be handled very well.’
In the UK, health bosses have urged hundreds of recent arrivals from Wuhan to call the NHS’s 111 helpline if they feel ill and 14 patients have already been tested for the SARS-like infection – all have been negative so far.
Doctors have also been told to ask anyone with flu-like symptoms if they have been to China – and then lock them in a room if they are suspected to be infected with the coronavirus.
More than 2,000 people have flown into Britain from Wuhan, the Chinese city on lockdown, since cases first emerged last month, it is feared.
Scottish officials yesterday confirmed they were testing five cases in Edinburgh and Glasgow ‘as a precaution’.
Another man was being tested in isolation at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, and there was a suspected case in Hillingdon, west London. Public Health England has still not revealed where the other cases are.
Anyone with the symptoms, who has travelled to the UK via Wuhan, will be tested for the virus and if cases are confirmed put in isolation at one of four UK super-hospitals: two in London, one in Liverpool and one in Newcastle.
The Russian government has stopped flights to and from Wuhan as a precautionary measure.
Two people in Russia, which borders China in the east, had to be tested for the coronavirus in St Petersburg, but there have been no confirmed cases there yet.
Everything we know we know so far about the deadly coronavirus in China: But how worried should we be?
The deadly coronavirus ravaging Asia is far more contagious than previously thought and someone who is infected can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze.
It has so far killed 26 people and infected more than 830 in at least 10 countries/territories within three weeks.
But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be over 10,000 as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases. Here’s what we know so far:
What is the Wuhan coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. It is an RNA virus (RNA is a type of genetic material called ribonucleic acid), which means it breaks into cells inside the host of the virus and uses them to reproduce itself.
This coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It is currently named 2019-nCoV, and does not have a more detailed name because so little is known about it.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, three weeks ago after medics first started seeing cases in December.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 4,500.
Just one week later, there have been more than 900 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimate that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. There are now 10 countries with confirmed cases and 26 people have died.
Where does the virus come from?
Nobody knows for sure. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of the virus in Wuhan came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
Bats are a prime suspect – researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a recent statement: ‘The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats… but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.’
And another scientific journal article has suggested the virus first infected snakes, which may then have transmitted it to people at the market in Wuhan.
Peking University researchers analysed the genes of the coronavirus and said they most closely matched viruses which are known to affect snakes. They said: ‘Results derived from our evolutionary analysis suggest for the first time that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV,’ in the Journal of Medical Virology.
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing yesterday, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than 1 in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
Information emerged on Thursday, suggesting that the illness may spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and therefore close contact, kissing and sharing cutlery or utensils are risky. Because it infects the lungs, it is also likely present in droplets people cough up which, when inhaled, can infect the next person.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the virus it may take between two and 14 days for them to show any symptoms.
If and when they do, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, yesterday said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has so far killed 26 people out of a total of at least 900 officially confirmed cases – a death rate of around three per cent. This is a higher death rate than the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18, while the official figure was around 400. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the death rate may be considerably lower.
Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.
Can the virus be cured?
The Wuhan coronavirus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak has not officially been confirmed as either an epidemic or a pandemic yet. This is likely because, despite the global concern, the number of people who have been confirmed to be infected is still relatively low.
A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organisation as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
An epidemic is when a disease takes hold of a smaller community, such as a single country, region or continent.